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Siteman Cancer Center Recognized by National Cancer Institute

Joni Westerhouse (WUSM)
(314) 286-0120
Jason Merrill (BJH)
(314) 286-0302

St. Louis Gains Federally Designated Cancer Center
St. Louis, Aug. 15, 2001 — The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital has received national recognition by becoming a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. The Siteman Cancer Center is the only institution to receive National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in Missouri and within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. The milestone recognizes the breadth, depth and balance of activities by researchers, clinicians and staff seeking to advance cancer knowledge, increase cancer screenings and ultimately to improve cancer care.

Siteman Cancer Center comprises the combined cancer-related programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. The NCI designation comes in the form of a special federal Cancer Center Grant given to Washington University School of Medicine for basic and clinical cancer research and cancer prevention programs.

"We are deeply honored to achieve this distinction for the extraordinary work of the researchers, clinicians and staff affiliated with Siteman Cancer Center," says Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D., director of the Siteman Cancer Center. "Receiving NCI designation is a tremendous acknowledgement of our ability to make a difference in the fight against cancer in the St. Louis community and beyond."

NCI designation is based on the center's ability to address complicated questions related to the cause and progression of cancer through the school's excellent programs in basic and clinical research.

New information gained through the endeavors of Siteman Cancer Center-affiliated faculty and staff will help reduce the burden of cancer locally and nationally by leading to improved strategies for cancer prevention, detection and treatment. This process is enhanced by scientists' and physicians' access to the most advanced research tools and techniques, a close association between state-of-the-art research and clinical care, and the ability to address regional and national cancer concerns.

A Resource for the Region
"NCI designation recognizes the outstanding medical research and patient care by Washington University faculty affiliated with Siteman Cancer Center as well as the success of the longstanding partnership between Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine," says William A. Peck, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the Washington University School of Medicine. "We now have the opportunity to bring cancer research from the laboratory to the bedside even quicker, thereby continuing to serve the best interests of our patients and the public. Designation as an NCI center will make Siteman Cancer Center an even greater resource for the St. Louis community and for cancer care worldwide."

The services at Siteman Cancer Center soon will expand as part of new facilities expected to open in fall 2001 in the Center for Advanced Medicine, being built by Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University at the corner of Forest Park and Euclid avenues. The Siteman Cancer Center will have a distinct entrance, lobby and elevators within the larger Center for Advanced Medicine. The substantial majority of the nearly 5,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients treated annually by Washington University physicians and Barnes-Jewish Hospital will receive their outpatient care within the new Siteman Cancer Center facility.

"The achievement of an NCI-designated cancer center is a victory for the people of St. Louis as well as for the entire region," says Ronald G. Evens, M.D., president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Cancer patients at the Siteman Cancer Center can be assured of the latest treatments and care including all the clinical and psychological components in a patient-friendly environment."

Advancing Cancer Research
The effort to gain federal NCI designation accelerated in 1995, when Washington University School of Medicine obtained an NCI Cancer Center Planning Grant - a first step toward NCI designation.

An additional critical step in the growth of cancer programs at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital occurred in 1996, when the board of Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital decided to have the university coordinate Barnard's outstanding indigent cancer care, cancer research and community education programs, thus bringing more resources to bear in the effort to create a broad-based and cohesive cancer program for St. Louis. Subsequently, Barnes-Jewish Hospital joined the university in running these important programs.

Eberlein, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguised Professor at Washington University and Surgeon-in-Chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, became the director of the growing cancer center in November 1999. That same month, St. Louisians Alvin J. and Ruth Siteman committed $35 million to Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University to support cancer-related efforts, thus expanding and providing a cohesive identity for the medical school and hospital's combined cancer programs, which were then renamed the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center.

Following these and other favorable developments, Washington University submitted a grant application to the NCI in October 2000 to request federal designation as an NCI Cancer Center. In January 2001, a panel of more than 20 nationally recognized experts in cancer reviewed the scope and quality of the Siteman Center's cancer research programs.

As part of the NCI designation announced today, Siteman Cancer Center will be the beneficiary of a new $4 million federal grant to Washington University School of Medicine. The grant will facilitate further multidisciplinary research, including clinical research and clinical trials that often occur within Barnes-Jewish Hospital or Siteman Cancer Center clinical spaces. This new NCI grant is in addition to the more than $80 million in cancer research and related training grants currently held by the school's more than 240 researchers and physician-scientists affiliated with the Siteman Cancer Center.

Broad-based Cancer Programs
The Siteman Cancer Center now has eight multi-disciplinary research programs and 11 centralized resource facilities, or core facilities, that help spur progress in these cancer programs. It also has efforts aimed at improving cancer prevention, detection and treatment. In an unusual local partnership, six faculty members from St. Louis University's School of Public Health have become affiliated with Siteman Cancer Center to provide expertise in studying the incidence, control and distribution of cancer across this region.

Educational and cancer screening efforts at Siteman Cancer Center for breast, skin, colorectal and other cancers reach thousands of St. Louis-area residents. For example, the Barnes-Jewish Hospital mammography van, in association with the Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University's Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, provided more than 7,000 screening mammograms last year throughout the metropolitan area.

Among other outreach efforts, the Siteman Cancer Center co-sponsored the third annual Komen St. Louis Race for The Cure this June, and has developed the KMOX Sportsfest and Clinical Research Fund for Teens with Bone Cancer, scheduled to occur in September 2001.

The Prevention and Control Program at the Siteman Cancer Center also is actively involved in community outreach. For example, program staff members are providing smoking cessation counseling at various Grace Hill Settlement Center locations and training residents to help colleagues to quit smoking.

In addition, the Siteman Cancer Center currently offers many patient and family services within Barnes-Jewish Hospital including access to a cancer information center, patient financial counseling services, psychosocial programs, an Arts as Healing program and hospice and end-of-life programs. These services fulfill community needs for educational information, smoking cessation interventions, and support groups for patients and families.

Patient access to clinical services and clinical trials offered by Washington University and Siteman Cancer Center is expanding to community-based hospitals as well. Medical oncologists and other specialists affiliated with Siteman and the School of Medicine now see patients on the campuses of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital and Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital.

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